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Facility Profile - September 2010

Aquatic Enhancement

Memorial Pool in Pasco, Wash.

By Monique Thibodeaux, ORB Architects


The Tri-Cities, considered the heart of Washington wine country, include the cities of Pasco, Kennewick and Richland. A sun-filled area touted as a year-round paradise for outdoor adventurers, this region has been thriving and experiencing a population increase over the past decade or so. But its aquatic facilities have not been keeping pace with its growth, and the need for expansion of aquatic programs in this region has become clear. Municipalities and private developers alike are focused on bringing additional aquatic opportunities to the community now.

The city of Pasco had been steadfast in this endeavor for nearly a decade. As one of Washington's fastest growing cities, Pasco experienced a 55 percent increase in population in the last eight years alone. At the same time, two of its three outdoor pools were small and inadequate to serve its growing population, and all three were aging and would soon need renovations to keep them operating. They were all basic "box" pools, so programming options were limited. The city had a desire to offer more water play and leisure features that would appeal to a broader audience, such as those that catered to differing swim abilities and teens looking for entertainment.

As a partner throughout this exploration over the years, ORB Architects, based in Renton, Wash., worked with the city of Pasco on feasibility studies and conceptual designs for several possibilities—a new outdoor pool facility to replace the two existing small pools, a new regional aquatic facility co-financed and shared by sister cities Kennewick and Richland, and finally, adding a leisure pool and enclosing an existing pool for year-round use. Despite the enthusiasm of stakeholders, each plan faced its own challenges, including getting regional cooperation, obtaining funding and gaining consensus among residents. Unfortunately, none of those plans came to fruition.

Finally, armed with $3.1 million from the city budget and with a new approach in mind, city leaders looked to ORB Architects for help to best use the designated money to enhance the aquatic opportunities for its residents. The limited budget required a very calculated approach to making improvements. ORB Architects teamed up with WMS Aquatics of Ellensburg, Wash., to help the city of Pasco really stretch dollars and determine the most cost-effective aquatics design to meet Pasco's budget as well as the construction timeline.

The focus of the improvements ended up being Pasco's 60-year-old Memorial Pool. The L-shaped, seven-lane 50-meter pool/six-lane 25-yard pool accommodated open swims, instructional classes and competitive swimming, but the pool's depth was not sufficient for safe diving. The pool was at the end of its useful life, and mechanical systems were increasingly costly to maintain and operate. The lack of exciting water features also limited the number of visitors that the pool received.

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